Josh Spaulding at Fenway Park.
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February 05, 2014LITTLETON– During the upcoming Winter Olympics, Coös County Democrat readers will have the opportunity to read stories in the paper from a local journalist who will be traveling to Sochi, Russia on Feb. 6 to the cover the Games—Josh Spaulding.
Spaulding, of Stark and Ossipee, who is the sports editor for all the Salmon Press newspapers but the Coos County Democrat and the Berlin Reporter, said he has been astounded by the moral and financial support he has received from the community that is making his trip possible.
"This is not a one person show," Spaulding said on a recent visit to Littleton. "This is not about me and it has been very humbling to see the support I've received."
Spaulding said it was gratifying to see how much people appreciated the work he has done over the years covering sports in New Hampshire.
Frank Chilinski, the president and publisher of Salmon Press, was enthusiastic the moment he heard Josh wanted to go and offered to pay a dollar for each dollar Spaulding raised to get to Russia.
"Once he told me about it, I knew the company wanted to help in whatever way we could," Chilinski said. "We're a small privately owned company, not a huge corporation -- so I knew we were limited in what we could do. The matching idea seemed to make sense for us, and for Josh."
The journey from covering local sports to traveling to Russia to cover the Olympics began on a whim. In August 2012 Spaulding received a general email sent out to sports reporters about a deadline for applying for credentials to cover the Olympics.
"I figured why not, and sent it in," Spaulding said. He noted that preference was given in the application materials for reporters from large news organizations, especially television news and large daily papers. Weekly papers were down at the bottom of the list but that did not prevent him from applying, he said.
A few months later he got a call from someone who was vetting applicants. He explained to the caller that there would likely be a number of athletes with local connections. Some of them, like Leanne Smith of North Conway, he had covered since high school. When asked about how he would pay for it, Spaulding told the interviewer, "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I get picked, I'll find a way."
He did. Salmon Press agreed to match whatever money he was able to raise for the trip but even so he knew it would be an expensive. When he said he would find a way to pay for it he was serious and would even have maxed out his credit cards, he said, but first he looked to find other ways. He mentioned the trip to people in the Wolfeboro area who enthusiastically suggested that he hold fundraisers for the trip.
High school students at Prospect Mountain Academy in Alton came up with the idea for a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. They organized the event and did most of the work, Spaulding said. The members of the Village Players in Wolfeboro, of which Spaulding is a member, held a roast for him last summer. Just a week ago a fundraiser was held in Wolfeboro. He received $1,000 in donations during that week that will help him pay for his final expenses.
Spaulding is overwhelmed by the assistance he has received and was at first uncomfortable with the idea of so many people helping him.
"I'm not the type of person to ask for help," he said.
Financial support has come from throughout the North Country as well as central New Hampshire, Spaulding said. Though he is originally from Pelham, he moved to Stark at age 11 and attended the Stark Village School before moving on to Groveton High School, where he graduated in 1994. He graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor's in English. He began working for Salmon Press 14 years ago.
Among some of the other athletes besides Leanne Smith that Spaulding will be covering will be Sean Doherty of Conway and Franconia's Bode Miller. It will be a treat for local readers to see a local byline and something that Chilinski is quite proud of.
"This is not something we do every day," Chilinski said. "In fact, other than the occasional foray into Canada by some of our northernmost reporters we never travel to another country to cover a story. Heck, we rarely leave the state!"
The unusual venue does not mean that the focus of the paper has changed at all, Chilinski noted. "Our publications are all local, local, local, and we reflect the communities we serve. In this case though, we have at least a half dozen young athletes from our New Hampshire towns representing the United States at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Josh is going be there, covering them for our Salmon Press local newspapers and our readers -- both in print and online. That makes me proud."
Spaulding's first stories from the Games will appear in the Feb. 12 issue.